Johannesburg - FibreCo Telecommunications, a joint venture between mobile operator Cell C, Convergence Partners and Internet Solutions, on Thursday announced that it has awarded China's ZTE with a contract to construct and supply technology equipment for its nationwide open access fibre-optic network.
ZTE is China's largest publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions.
Work on the initial leg of phase 1 was already under way, which includeed a 1 900 km link between Johannesburg and Cape Town via the Free State and Eastern Cape valued at R1bn.
FibreCo said it had also signed capacity purchase agreements with its first three clients for the Johannesburg-Cape Town route, namely BT, Cell C and Internet Solutions, allowing them ownership of fibre infrastructure and the ability to build bespoke optical transmission networks.
FibreCo said that the initial phase of its development would result in the creation of 2 300 direct and indirect job opportunities.
It would also train at least 100 fibre-optic technicians during construction and maintenance of the network in all provinces along its route.
FibreCo chairpson Andile Ngcaba said: "This landmark investment will provide affordable, reliable and fast internet access to ordinary South Africans."
Arif Hussain, CEO of FibreCo, said: "We are delighted to welcome BT, a client with a truly global brand, to the FibreCo network alongside Cell C and Internet Solutions, who have been valued partners since inception. On the strength of these contracts, coupled with the financial backing of our shareholders, we have secured the necessary funding".
Shi Song, CEO of ZTE SA, said: "ZTE is pleased to be associated with such an exciting venture as the FibreCo project, which will change the face of internet access in SA. It also constitutes another incredible opportunity for ZTE to reinforce its long-term commitment to SA and its economic development."
Keith Matthews, GM, BT Sub-Saharan Africa said: "Our customers in SA will benefit from our access to FibreCo's infrastructure through increased performance and an optimised cost base.
"The new network will allow us to offer to our regional and global customers improved local access to BT Global Services' portfolio of innovative products and services. This project is also a step in the right direction on the way to a more level playing field in the South African telecommunications market."